They really seem quite harmless. Most of the time. During the summer the strong, sturdy trunk of the cottonwood tree out our back door stands majestically on the edge of the woods. Because it is so big, we’ve had moments when the wind comes whipping across the lake and we wondered if it might topple over.
But we’ve assured the girls that if that ever did happen, that big ol’ cottonwood tree will not land on our house. It is leaning the other way, and besides, it would take a pretty serious wind storm to knock that giant tree down.
And if that should happen, probably the last thing we would be worried about is the tree falling on our house. The roof blowing off and toppling end-over-end into the corn field would happen before that huge thing would budge. But aside for the potential for imminent catastrophe in the event that the enormous tree on the edge of our woods should collide with our house in a wind storm, this cottonwood tree has a lesson for us every spring.
Actually, the first little “annoyance” comes from quite a different source. The maple tree in the front yard is so beautiful, and in the middle of summer when all the leaves are thickly shading our deck, we love the cool breezes and the privacy it provides. But just about the time the weather turns perfect for enjoying our deck, that lovely maple tree begins to drop “stuff” on our heads. First it drops little “helicopters” when the seed pods drop off (I guess!) as the new leaves pop out.
So, we sweep up all those pesky little things, every day for about a week, and then the next round of “stuff” arrives from our beautiful maple tree. This time the arrival of more tree paraphernalia includes small sticky “things.” I have no idea where we are at in the growing process of this tree, but these sticky “things” are really annoying! For several days they are all over the deck, and every time anyone walks in our house, a bunch of that junk comes in on shoes, boots, or sandals.
After washing the deck clean of the sticky things, our maple tree then drops brown bouquets of seeds, or something. At least they aren’t sticky . . . . but they are so messy! CAUTION: Do not even consider buying a house, no matter how much you LOVE it, if there are messy trees around! Finally, after about three weeks (did I mention summer is marching on and it is now early June?), the junk from the maple tree stops dropping on our table and chairs so think we can have our burgers and hot dogs out on the deck . . . . .
And the cottonwood tree is in full bloom! At first it doesn’t seem too bad – just a few light, fluffy white puffs blowing in the wind. But then they arrive in full force. White fluff is EVERYWHERE! For about two or three weeks, especially if it is windy at all, the lawn, theygarden, the flower pots, the deck, even the windows are covered with all this white stuff. The lawn sometimes looks almost like it has snow on it, early in the morning.
So, every morning I get up early, before it gets too hot, and sweep off the white fluff. But it just floats back behind me, so it is really a losing battle. Then I thought perhaps if I used the hose to wash it down, that would work. Hmmmm . . . . not so much. Then I had wet, soggy, heavy white fluff that just did not want to budge off of my deck!
When that stuff is floating through the air, it flies up your nose, in your eyes and mouth, and tickles your ears. It really makes life rather messy for several weeks. It is now the third week in June and we’ve finally washed away the last of these sweet fluffy white puffs from our yard – I hope – but the other day as I was sweeping and then washing down the deck (and turning around to see more junk right where I had just been sweeping), it reminded me of life.
It reminded me that, no matter how hard we try to get rid of the JUNK in our lives, somehow it just keeps showing up. Those old fears, ancient anxieties, sadness and pain that we were sure had been washed away, memories of broken relationships or sinful choices we’ve all made – all have a way of dropping on our heads, just when we thought we had swept them all away.
But then I remembered – that is exactly why God gives us second, and third, and fourth, and millioneth chances. As I swept the last few fluffy white puffs from the deck that morning (and really hoped that they were done, for good, this summer), I was encouraged that we all have messy cottonwood trees in our gardens. Oh, maybe not in your back yard garden, but in the “garden” of your life. I’m going to try to remember that it is normal to have “junk” happen.
The problem doesn’t come from having “junk” show up occasionally, or even every day. The problem comes when we don’t take the time to sweep it clean. That’s why we have a God who is gracious, merciful, and forgiving. He doesn’t care how much “junk” you’re sweeping up, He is there to give you the strength, the wisdom, and the courage to tackle those messy jobs. Be encouraged! He cares about your junk, too!